Gelso and Grand Restaurant Wedding Reception in NYC | Rachel + Max
A note from Alexis //
This is a series where I ask some of my recently wed couples
to share their experience planning their weddings:
the excellent, the awful, and ultimately, the awesome things
about their truly unforgettable marriage celebrations.
Tell us a little about yourselves, and how you decided to get married:
Max and I [Rachel] went to college together and have known each other for over a decade. We’ve been a couple for 8 of those years, so getting married felt like the next natural step in our relationship. The proposal, admittedly, was not a total surprise but was absolutely perfect. We were alone on a rooftop in Lisbon eating bodega strawberries overlooking panoramic views of the city when Max pulled out his mother’s ring and asked me to marry him. Spoiler: I said yes.
What was your favorite part of your wedding day and planning process?
We had a pretty specific vision for our wedding. We aren’t religious, we aren’t fussy, and we didn’t want anything over-the-top or ostentatious. We love NYC and wanted our wedding to feel like a typical night out in the city—a memorable dinner followed by lots of dancing. Our primary concern was that our guests felt like they were at a beautiful party rather than a structured, formal wedding.
What crystalized on our wedding day was exactly that. Our venue, Gelso and Grand, looked stunning thanks to the entire staff who seamlessly put everything together along with our florist, Buds of Brooklyn. I cannot sing enough praise for Buds and their glamorous, chic, yet simple floral arrangements. I still have my bridal bouquet, which of course is completely dried out by now, in a vase in our apartment because I’m so obsessed and can’t bear to throw it out.
And then there was Alexis’ immensely impactful role not only in our wedding day, but in all stages leading up to it. She went above and beyond, offering guidance on everything from venue recommendations to day-of logistics and everything in between. She was our friend and go-to person throughout the whole process.
So in short, my favorite part of the planning process was seeing everything come together as we’d envisioned. And my favorite part of the wedding night? The memorable dinner during which Max and I sat, in typical NYC fashion, at the bar.
What were your priorities as you began planning your wedding?
We knew we wanted a small-ish (120 people max) New York area wedding. We looked upstate at some beautiful rustic venues, but decided doing something in the city was just easier logistically. We had initially booked the NY Botanical Gardens in the Bronx, which is a lovely venue, but not being in the heart of the city didn’t feel right. We decided that if we wanted to have a city wedding, it really had to be in the city, and challenged ourselves to make it work at a lower price point than the Botanical Gardens.
I had gone to Gelso and Grand years ago for lunch and remember thinking ‘this would be a cool, casual wedding venue’. In a rush, I called them and asked if I could come by. Immediately after seeing the space again, hearing their pricing options, and talking to their coordinator, I knew we had found our new venue.
Luckily, they were available on our desired date and we were able to get a full refund on the Botanical Gardens. Needless to say, it all worked out!
What surprised you most about your wedding- planning, celebration and afterwards?
I would say I was most surprised by how easily wedding stress can be managed with the right approach and the right people helping you along the way. At the end of the day, a wedding should be a joyous, celebratory experience that doesn’t ignite stress. I realize that road bumps are inevitable, but setting expectations for yourself and your wedding from the start is a way to help alleviate problems.
Also, I was surprised by the sheer relief of it being over. Max and I have a bunch of friend weddings this year and I do not envy being back in those shoes!
Any advice for couples at the beginning of their planning process?
I think it’s common for newly engaged couples to get flooded with different opinions on what they should or shouldn’t be doing for their wedding. And we can’t help to be influenced social media, using other people as a barometer.
So my advice would be to make decisions based on what you two want to do, and absolutely do not spend above your means. A great wedding doesn’t have to have a certain price tag attached to it to make it great if you’re with all your favorite people and it’s well-executed.
What will you always remember about your wedding day?
The whole day is seared into my memory, and I’ll look back on it with fondness and gratitude. A thorn I think I’ll always remember is waking up extremely hungover and panicking about making it through the day (tip: don’t drink a lot the night before...should be obvious right?)
And one of the many roses I’ll always remember is saying our own personally-written vows to each other in front of our guests. Our vows were a testament to our relationship rather than a generic promise to each other, which felt like the more intimate and “us” way to approach the tradition.
Anything else you’d like to share?
If you’re planning your wedding, try to enjoy it because the whole experience will (hopefully!) only happen once. And like i’ve already advised, don’t drink too much the night before!
Thank you for sharing your wedding planning story, R + M!
Are you planning a rad + intimate NYC restaurant wedding,
and interested in discussing photography services with CLP?
Let’s get the convo started over at the Contact page!